Saturday, June 29, 2013

15 Minutes of Play Project

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on making blocks based on the book, 15 Minutes of Play by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  Early in the morning nearly every day I created "made fabric" and cut it into 4 1/2" squares (because that was the square ruler size I had).

My Process:

One of the challenges in this book is to swap fabrics with a friend.  My friend Joan and I traded a bag of scraps and had fun making blocks partially or entirely out of the other's fabrics.  I knew I wanted a darker border with low volume/light blocks in the center.  While paging through my book, I was inspired by some awesome improv roses and leaves on a quilt, "Sunday Best," on page 63 by Mary Ramsey Keasler.  (Sorry, no photo of the quilt is available on the Internet but check out Mary's blog--she does some lovely work.)  So then I made roses to applique on the top, which I have to tell you, take longer than 15 minutes to make. :)  After adding some roses, I tried leaves (much faster than roses).  It seemed like the quilt needed a focal point in the center.  I started paging through my Piece O'Cake applique books because they have fun, whimsical floral patterns that I thought could fit and I wanted to hand applique the pattern.  I mentioned this to Joan and she thought it might be out of place with all the improv I had going on in the quilt so I changed my plan.  I decided to "make my fabric" and then cut it out into flower shapes using a template from a Piece O' Cake pattern, then raw edge applique it like the roses and leaves.

Here is the evolution of my project:

Here is where I left it today with an additional row of blocks to create more space between the blue tulips and the roses:

I am really happy with it at this point.  I am ready to sew the blocks together and start appliqueing the flowers.  I am going to try just pinning them down and straight stitching near the edges rather than fusing them.  The bias stems are fusible, though.  No idea how I will quilt it.

I have loved making these blocks and I can't recommend the book and this process enough. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Improv Quilt Blocks

Improv class block 1 rail fence
Improv Block, month 1

In my early quilting days, I don't think I could appreciate improvisational piecing.  Maybe three or four years ago, I could admire others' work but was not interested in doing it myself.  And now, here I am giving it a whirl.

Improv Geese

I am taking an improv block of the month class at my local quilt shop, Stitch Your Art Out.  In class, we have talked a lot about how we feel when we are doing this type of piecing, what inspires us, what processes we use to get our block together, etc.  The "gremlin" has come up often in discuss, the voice in your head that criticizes what you are doing and tries to keep you safe from making mistakes by stopping you from doing anything at all!  I am sure everyone has this gremlin voice to some degree.  I really did consciously think about what the negative and scared thoughts than ran through my head were saying to me until I took this class.  Our fearless leader, Kim, says that the gremlin often comes from a sort of childish/childlike and my gremlin does seem to bring up fears that, when I try to tell someone else about them, begin to sound silly to me, though they were perfectly legitimate in my own head. :)

Improv block April--insets

Here are some common things my gremlin worries about:
wasting fabric
making mistakes
making something ugly
why I am doing something creative--what is the point
what I am doing is not original enough
what I make is not as good as the work of someone else

I have learned that if I actually try to respond to the gremlin concerns, I can begin to move through the fear of creating.  For example, when I made the block below for March, my gremlin said, "This looks like a box of crayons."  I asked my gremlin, "What's wrong with that?"  He did not have an answer.  I decided to walk away from it and see if it still bothered me after a couple of days.  It didn't.

Improv block of the month #3, nine patch

I am also working out of a book, 15 Minutes of Play and am making more efforts to play with improv blocks.  The thing I like a lot about this book is that you are creating "made fabric" but it is then cut up into regular shapes and sashing, etc., is added, or the made fabric takes a familiar shape, like a star.  The made fabric adds depth to the piece but it is not so completely out of control that your eye doesn't know where to look.

Improv taking shape  #15minplay

I am hoping to do a low contrast background in the center with flowers and a bright border. You can see it starting to come together a bit here.

Do you have a gremlin?  What does yours say to you about quilting?  Have you developed a way to respond to your gremlin?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Committing to Finishing

So I made a declaration to some friends that I wanted to finish several of my quilt UFOs this summer.  By UFO, I mean something that hasn't been touched or worked on in several months/years.  I took photos of all of them that I could find and then I emailed all the photos (12 projects) to my friends.  Then I got really brave and committed to getting four (4) done this summer.  Here they are:

Jelly Roll Race UFO

I made this Jelly Roll Race last summer. I have actually already gotten to work on this one--one more edge to bind and it is all set.  It will be a graduation gift for my niece.

Floral Applique UFO

This little top was finished a couple of years ago. I couldn't decide how to quilt it and whether to hand or machine quilt it. I had just decided on machine quilting it the other day but then realized the design I wanted to do might be easier to do by hand. So this is the next one to work on but I am still contemplating my options.

Summer Sampler QAL UFO

Here is my Summer Sampler quilt. I made the blocks a couple of years ago. I need to decide how I want to lay out the blocks. On point? Maybe. Sashing of some sort? Probably. But simple sashing or some kind of cool cornerstones? Probably cool cornerstones like a pinwheel. But if I put them on point then maybe no sashing.  So yeah, more thinking to do here.  I might consider a border, too.

Lotus Tile Quilt UFO

Here is my Lotus Quilt from the book Tile Quilt Revival.   I need to make 4 more blocks (one I started but didn't finish).  I decided that I am switching to the freezerpaper and starch method instead of needleturn since I can't get the results quite the way I would like them (pieces shift and change size no matter how hard I try nor how carefully I pin).  This is time consuming and I have a bad feeling I won't actually get it done this summer.  Especially because I will probably spend all of July working on fall and spring samples for classes I will teach and a crochet design I am working on.  But maybe this can carry on into fall, if needed.

Wish me luck!

How do you manage your UFOs?  Do you have a system?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Still kicking around

Wow, this spring semester was so crazy that I felt like I was a grad student all over again and I didn't get much crafting done.  I was grateful for the semester's end!  And what did I do when the semester ended?  I got down to quilting my Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt.  I started it in January and worked steadily, finishing the top faster than anything since the Jelly Roll Race I made last summer.  It was really therapeutic!

Scrappy Trip Mosaic 

Back at it again!  Let's hope I finish today. 


Ta da! Scrappy Trip Around the World

This quilt was completed just before Memorial Day.  I love how it turned out! The quilting took a lot longer than I expected. I marked a flower petal shape in each square and going around all those curves made for slow going. Also, I was having all kinds of problems with my sewing machine and ended up quilting it with a clear plastic embroidery open toe foot, which worked out great, actually. The biggest problem I had was that my machine was possessed and kept sewing sometimes after I took my foot off the foot control.

I set myself a goal of finishing 4 UFO quilts this summer.  One is nearly completed.  Stay tuned!